CategoriesBlog Wellness

Sun Safety for Kids: What Parents Should Know

With the weather finally warming up, it’s time to get excited about outdoor activities again. Getting outside can energize your day – especially after being cooped up for most of the winter. But before you hit the playground, you should learn about sun safety for kids to make sure everyone can play safely outside. 

From SPF to kid’s sun protection hats, learn about sunscreen, sun safety, and how to get the most out of your outdoor time while protecting your skin.

Understanding SPF

When it comes to sunscreen for kids, it can get confusing. Sure, you’ve probably used it for most of your life, but chances are that you might not understand SPF as well as you think you do.

Sun protection factor (SPF) is the rating that sunblocks are given, depending on how much of the sun’s rays they block. 

The number that follows SPF (i.e., 15, 30, 50) indicates how long it would take to get burnt if you weren’t wearing any sunblock. For example, it would take 50 times longer to burn after applying SPF 50 versus not wearing any sunscreen whatsoever.

What’s the minimum SPF rating for kids The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) sunscreen guidelines recommend SPF 15 at minimum. This is a good starting point, but you can always opt for a higher-strength sunblock.

SPF 15 blocks about 93% of the sun’s UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks up to 98% of UVB rays. 

Some dermatologists might tell you that anything over SPF 50 won’t do much more to protect the skin. In fact, it can lure you into a false sense of security that could result in painful sunburn for your kids.

Keep in mind that sunscreen’s effectiveness is based on the assumption that it’s applied (and reapplied) correctly. 

Dodge the (Ultraviolet) Rays

UVA and UVB rays are both harmful UV rays. They can do a real number on any exposed skin that might be peeking out on your child. 

UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are most responsible for premature skin aging. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn and skin cancer.

Avoid sun damage to your kid’s skin by choosing sun protection that offers broad-spectrum protection. This type of sunblock blocks out both UVA and UVB rays to provide maximum protection.

Also, consider timing your outdoor excursions so that you’re inside at midday when the sun’s rays are the most intense.

Different Types of Sunscreen

Choosing the right type of sunscreen ultimately comes down to what outdoor activities you have planned. The same sunscreen won’t work for every activity. Here’s how to protect children from the sun by choosing the right sunblock

Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreen

Chemical and physical sunblocks are two different styles of sunblock that have unique advantages and disadvantages.



  • Blocks the sun’s rays by soaking up UV rays and turning them into heat
  • They can take up to 30 minutes to work – which can feel like a lifetime of waiting for eager children
  • Aerosol application makes it easier to apply



  • Blocks the sun’s rays by reflecting UV rays
  • Don’t have a wait time before they start working
  • Can be easier to wipe off and might need reapplied more often

Sunscreen Lotion, Stick, or Spray?

Lotion and stick sunscreens tend to apply thicker than aerosol sprays. They may or may not be waterproof. Waterproof sunscreen is an easy way to avoid sunburn while swimming.

One bonus to aerosol and stick sunscreens is that they are easy to apply to a wiggly, active child. Aerosol chemical sunblock helps to avoid the whole “sunblock in my eyes” burning feeling that can create negative associations with sunblock for kids.

There is not a single “best” type of sunscreen. If you plan on staying out longer, a stick or lotion sunblock might be best. But if you’re just going to the park for a few hours in the early morning, then an aerosol can be a good option, too.

And when in doubt, reapply, reapply, reapply!

How to Explain Sun Safety to Children

Getting kids to wear sun protection hats, UV shirts, and reapply sunscreen can feel impossible. They often don’t realize the importance of sun safety. Here are a few ways you can approach teaching sun safety facts to kids:


  • Make it a game: Try playing sun safety dress-up. Grab bucket hats, UV shirts, and sun protection wraps and pretend to “dress up”, even though you might not be going outside. This can help kids look forward to protecting their skin.
  • Take it to the classroom: Making it a part of other, learning moments can help kids to understand the significance of sun protection. Look for books, e-learning apps, and TV programs that help reinforce sun info for kids. Who knows what fun facts about the sun for kids you might run into!
  • Lead by example: If there’s one thing that parents know for sure, it’s that the kids are always watching and emulating our actions as parents. Demonstrate the importance of sun safety by practicing good sun safety yourself.

Sunburn Information Facts

Even diligence cannot 100% prevent sunburns. While we try our best as parents, we’re only human, and there is a chance that your child might experience sunburn at some point.

If sunburn happens, it’s a good idea to use aloe vera to help cool the skin down and reduce inflammation. Keep the affected area cool and dry and avoid clothing that can restrict airflow.

Remember that sunburn treatment is only the first step. You’ll also need to make sure that your child drinks enough water and stays hydrated to accelerate skin cells’ healing process. 

Conclusion: Know the Facts About Being Sunsmart

The best way to avoid long-term skin damage is to make sure you understand the facts about being sun smart. When it comes to kids and sun, help teach your child about the importance of sun protection – whether that’s wearing sunblock, protective clothing, or modifying the “under the sun” hours. Understanding these parenting sun tips can help show you how to stay safe in the sun for kids.